Prior allegation may be admitted in abuse case
A judge tentatively determined that evidence of past alleged sexual misconduct of Rudolph Steele will be allowed, but he will save his ruling until the next hearing so he can review other testimony supporting the allegation.
Steele, 41, was being held at El Dorado County Jail on $210,000 bail. He faces felony charges stemming from alleged sexual abuse of a 4-year-old boy.
On Thursday at El Dorado County Superior Court, allegations that Steele molested a boy prior to 1986 were tentatively admitted by Judge Jerald Lasarow. He will rule Dec. 27 if the witness statements are reliable.
The boy, who was born in 1981, committed suicide in 1999. He reportedly made comments to a mental health counselor in December 1987 about Steele molesting him. The alleged incident took place prior to 1986.
“We don’t know why he committed suicide,” Deputy Public Defender Simon Harvey said. “The boy had a very troubled life mentally and we don’t know what caused that. It could be what’s alleged or an independent cause, which would make allegations themselves unreliable.”
Deputy District Attorney Peter O’Hara believes he can prove there were more statements made by the boy. If Lasarow decides the statements are reliable, there will be no additional charges filed.
“The charges remain the same,” O’Hara said. “What it will do is boost the credibility of the present victim. These crimes usually have no independent witnesses. It’s a credibility battle.”
Steele was arrested in August after the 4-year-old boy told his mother about the alleged abuse. The mother contacted authorities. Deputies from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department took Steele into custody.
Steele, who is unemployed, pleaded not guilty on counts including sodomy, oral copulation with a minor, penetration with a foreign object, lewd acts on a minor, child endangerment, continued sexual abuse of a child and intent to infect another with AIDS.
Preliminary tests determined the boy does not have AIDS.
The trial is expected to begin Jan. 6.
If found guilty, Steele could face chemical castration. The chemical is an option for prosecutors when dealing with people convicted of crimes against victims 13 years old or younger. It would be administered a week before parole.
— Contact William Ferchland at firstname.lastname@example.org
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